Trump Escalates Feud With Intelligence Officials

President Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan has escalated his feud with former intelligence officials.

The move was widely seen as an effort by Trump to retaliate against one of his most fervent critics and it has triggered concerns about whether others in the national security community will be affected.

The move is one that legal analysts say is unprecedented — marking the first instance of a president unilaterally intervening in a security clearance case of a former, high-level official.

Experts agree that Trump, as commander in chief, is within his authority to make determinations regarding who has access to classified information.

But Trump’s decision triggered a debate on whether he crossed the line given the seemingly partisan nature of his move.

It sparked a maelstrom of criticism from former intelligence officials and Democrats, who accused the president of seeking to silence his political foes.

Some Republicans offered support for Trump’s move, however. There was also criticism of Brennan, who on social media and in cable television appearances has scorched the president with criticism.

Still, the move, whether perceived as a partisan stunt or to address national security concerns, could play well for the president among his base.

“Not only are you going after your political opponents who have wronged you, but you also are raising a substantive policy question about security clearances and who should have them when they leave the government,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said, calling it smart political messaging.

Read more from Olivia Beavers and Morgan Chalfant at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy